Basilica of San Nicoḷ

It is the main basilica of the city and is dedicated to the patron of the sailors. It was built in neoclassical style, under the direction of the architect Giuseppe Bovara, on a pre-existing church that modified a Romanesque temple of the end of the XI century.

We know that the first nucleus was large approximately as the nave of the present basilica and long until the main altar. It was divided in three naves, at the end of which rose three chapels with altars.
The better conserved part of the Romanesque church is the southern facade. The first written document that mentions the church is dated 1252, moreover, we know in 1283 the bell tower was used as a tower. The chapel where today there is the christening font was originally an entrance hall, opened on the road through two large arches. In the following century the thirteenth-century entrance hall was closed and turned into a chapel dedicated to S. Antonio the Abbot. Approximately in hte central years of the eighteenth century this chapel was cut in two parts: towards the nave was left a little altar, while the rear part was used as wax candles warehouse.

In 1955 appeared under the whitewashing the traces of some paintings, then restored. In the end the chapel was used as a baptistry.
The most ancient chapel is dated back to the beginning of the fourteenth century, the other ones are of the end (images of saints and of an Annunciation), better conserved are some images of a Deposition.
In the vault two series of six scenes of episodes of the life of Saint Antonio Abate are represented. Unfortunately some of these are damaged. The frescoes of Lecco belong to a Giottesque taste. On the perimeter of this chapel the old bell tower, probably erected in the XV century, is set up, while the porch has been added in the following century.
In 1596 a work of reconstruction of the basilica began, then instead of the chapel of S. Pietro Martire the baptistry was built. Only between 1652 and 1660 the restorations of the facade and the bell tower were done. In 1617 the chapel dedicated to saint Carlo was finished and in the 1622 began the building of the one of the Madonna of the Rosary, in a neoclassical style, with a pediment held up by six corinthian columns. The works had not substantially modified the pre-existent building and only in 1824 there was the idea of enlarging or re-building the church towards the present square Piazza Garibaldi.
In the 1838 chapels were finished, in 1845 the architect Bovara designed the nave and the vestibule. In 1853 the old columns were removed, the coffered vault was built and in 1862 the apse was enlarged. The facade was finished only in 1883, thanks to the Ing Giovanni Maria Stoppani, based on a design of the Bovara, who died and donated to the church his tower in order to make it a bell tower, but the realization was finished only between 1902 and 1904. The basilica today appears like a huge, but not unitary organism (it is 80 m. long and 30 wide).

The decorations

The nave has a neo-classical style. Between the first semicolumns Casimiro Radice (1834-1906) frescoed 10 panels with Gospel scenes. The dome by Morgari represents the apotheosis of the Madonna of the rosary
On the below walls are painted the preeches of Saint Stefano and the symbolic miracle of the Trinity performed by S. Nicoḷ at the Concilio of Nicea. The same author painted the little domes of the lateral aisles with scenes of the life of Christ. The Via Crucis of the basilica is formed by 14 bronze panels, created by Manfrini between 1968-69. The frontal of the main altar is made of bronze and represents the Last Dinner by Leonardo.
The chapels are: the one of S. Giuseppe, of the Rosary, the Crocefisso, S. Giuda, of S. Carlo and Nicoḷ, the little altar of Addolorata and the chapel of the baptistry. The main doors (the doors of the Misericordia) are composed by bronze panels, by the sculptor Enrico Manfrini that completed them in 1975.



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